Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Princeton University, James Forrestal Campus, Box 451, Princeton 08543. 609-243-2000. Stewart Prager, director.

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced that Princeton University will continue to manage and operate the DOE’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory at least through 2022.

“We are delighted to have this contract extension and continue the critical work at PPPL,” said David McComas, vice president of PPPL and professor of astrophysical sciences. “The university is committed to advancing research and science in the service of society, which includes revitalizing its long-term collaboration with DOE.”

PPPL researches the physics of plasmas (charged gases) and to developing practical solutions for the creation of fusion energy. Results of PPPL research have ranged from a portable nuclear materials detector for homeland security applications to universally employed computer codes for analyzing and predicting the outcome of fusion experiments. In 2015 a synthetic muscle developed at the lab was sent to the International Space Station for study. (U.S. 1, April 22, 2015.)

Princeton has been the PPPL contractor since its inception in 1951, when it was called Project Matterhorn and under the leadership of Lyman Spitzer. PPPL is one of 10 national science laboratories overseen by DOE’s Office of Science.

One of the PPPL’s main goals is to attempt to create fusion power, a potential energy source using the same physical processes that keep stars burning.

As part of the agreement, the University extended the lease on the land PPPL occupies for another 30 years with a one-time payment of $1 for as long as Princeton remains the laboratory’s management and operations contractor.

Princeton will continue to co-sponsor the Facility for Laboratory Reconnection Experiments (FLARE), a powerful new device for advancing research into magnetic reconnection that was assembled at the university and will be housed at PPPL. The agreement specified that the university will fund upgrades to the machine and the DOE will fund project management, infrastructure and commissioning.

PPPL researchers will have priority access to a new suite of computing clusters that are run by the university and housed within the Princeton High-Performance Computing Research Center.

“We look forward to increasing close collaborations between the University and the DOE,” McComas said.


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